J. Reuben Clark Law Society
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30 Seconds 2016 Contest Winners


First Place: Gary Stringham
Requesting Tolerance

Second Place: Emily Grant
Choose Your Path

Third Place: Tingle Fraser
Not going to Defend Itself

Honorable Mention: Scot Hanson
Other Freedoms

Honorable Mention: Mackenzie Nielson
Religious Unity

Honorable Mention: Robert Morain
Amendment One

Honorable Mention: Sydney Johnston
It's Okay to Stand Out

Honorable Mention: Connie Sakawye
Intimately and Divinely United

Honorable Mention: Rebecca Esplin
Belief: A Part of Identity

Honorable Mention: Gary Stringham
Legal Debates

Honorable Mention: Brooke Smith
America the Haven


First Place: Andrew Thomas
Wall or Shield?

Our right to belief in the United States is defended by our right to not be dictated what to belief-infamously depicted as a wall of separation between Church and State. Unfortunately, this analogy has provided fodder for those that think that religious belief should be completely silent in the public square; that it is a civil sin of the highest order to talk religion in public. But our protection under the Constitution is from government intervention, not public discourse. To me, a better analogy is to view our religious freedoms as a shield that deflects laws, regulations, and majority beliefs from our personal religious beliefs. It is a right that must be actively used, like a shield in battle, to be effective, and if under constant attack, our rights become harder to defend.

Second Place: Connie Sakawye
Freedom Floats of Time
Freedom floats free of time, carrying our hopes for love, peace, security, joy, and happiness. The Heavenly principles upon which these values are built should remind us that life is rich and beauty is everywhere. In essence we, with God, can become one in unity and purpose, because the spirit of freedom is the spirit of God.

Third Place: Gary Stringham
Christians Should Be More Like Chick-fil-A

There are those who assert that religious exercise should be curtailed because religions oppress, brainwash, and extort their followers, and are intolerant of others with different beliefs. Unfortunately, there is some basis for truth because of those who claim to be religious yet who behave in an unchristian-like manner.

In June, 2016, a gunman wounded and killed many people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, a Christian pastor said that was a good thing. In contrast, Chick-fil-A, known for their religious beliefs, opposition to gay marriage, and being closed on Sundays, opened their doors the next day, a Sunday, and prepared and gave away food to law enforcement officials and blood donors who were rendering assistance to the victims.

We can do much to promote religious liberty if we act more like Chick-fil-A than that pastor.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Thomas
Taken for Granted

The right to believe is something that I think we have all taken for granted. Here, I can pronounce that I belong to the Church of the Dude or even be a warlock or wizard, and I am free to do so without any intervention by the State. However, there are still countries, and a significant percentage of the world population, that is literally told what to think, and to either avoid religion entirely , as in Communist states like North Korea, or to adhere to one State religion, such as with Muslim theocracies in the Middle East. Religious liberty can be lost with a single tyrant, or perverted by fear of the unknown often associated with minority religious groups like Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Mormons that have unique beliefs, but often have minority status.

Honorable Mention: Sean Kikkert
Our Religion: An Essential Part of Our Identity

My mother is Irish and my father is Dutch, and my culture is a big part of my identity. My wife is Tongan, and I have also adopted her culture as my own as well. We celebrate all of these cultures in our family, and I am so grateful that we live in a country that honors multiculturalism and recognizes that no one should be attacked on the basis of their culture or background. We do not always live up to this ideal, and as a society we need to strive to treat each other better, but I am grateful that our freedom to live our cultures is recognized, valued and protected. 

As much as my culture is a cherished and crucial part of my identity, my faith is an even more essential part of who I am. For many of us, our religion has been passed down to us over countless generations. For others, our faith may be a new and treasured possession. Either way, our religion is something that is deep and personal and extremely meaningful in our lives. And yet the value that society places on this part of our identity is diminishing. Too often we are being told what we can believe and how we can practice our faith. Our religious freedoms are slowly being eroded away, and the essence of who we are is being challenged. But we can stand up for our right to practice our religion in firm but gentle ways. We can respectfully protect our freedom to be who we are as men and women of faith.

Honorable Mention: David Brown
Diversity in Deed

We embrace cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity as the theme of our global community. We are the political majority. In our hands lies the power to coerce or to permit. What should we do when diversity leads to expressions that offend our notion of social justice? What if those expressions deprive no one of their property, life, or freedom? Does our sense of social justice alone vindicate coercion of moral behavior in others at the expense of their cultural, ethnic, and religious heritage? 

Can diversity thrive in a state where moral conformity is enforced by law? No. Diversity in a state of moral coercion is only skin deep. We must therefore decide. If we are to be true to our commitment to diversity, it must be diversity in deed. 
Honorable Mention: Daniel Tilleman
Keep God in Government

The first amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof." The found fathers never intended for there to be a set religion of the country; that was what they just came from in England. They did, however, have every intention of having a country of religious people and have it be a free exercise of those religions. There is a large movement right now to take the term "God" off of our coins, out of our national anthem, and exiled from our historic documents and history. There has even been some success of this movement. The danger of this is that if successful, the removal of God from our American nationality will destroy religious freedom as we know it. Why? Taking God out of our country implies that we have selected Atheism as our national religion. Keeping God in Government does not denote what being anyone has to worship nor does it have claim or reference to any one religion. There are so many diverse religions that claim to worship a god or many gods, and therefore this keeps religion in our country without establishing a particular religion for our country. With the alternative, we may as well get rid of the first amendment.
Honorable Mention: Derik Krauss
Do you really believe in religious liberty? Answer 10 controversial questions to determine if you understand religious liberty.

Ryan Harmon and Derik Krauss created a 10-question quiz that asks controversial questions concerning religious liberty. At the end of the quiz, responses are scored and explanations provided. Check it out: http://bit.ly/2gAbkAB
Honorable Mention: Nora Coffelt
Equal Access to Prepared and Rightful Referral By the Declared Religious Conscience

Professionals should be able to choose the services they provide based on religious beliefs. Those seeking gay marriage, abortion, or trans-gendered operations, those who are employees whose job descriptions imply that such services including abortions, gay marriage, or trans-gendered operations must be performed, have the option to not perform. This will primarily end up involving churches, hospitals, and health clinics; clergy, doctors, and nurses.

Those seeking gay rights have been pressing against religious freedom for the purpose of desired equality and recognition of their freedom for years, and the only way that the religious community will be able to protect their right to freedom of religious conscience is by a compromise to support the rights of those seeking equal convenient treatment, and equal freedom and access to medical procedures. There should be a policy that successfully supports the rights of both groups (those seeking gender and abortion rights, and those seeking protection from a violation of their consciences) by considering and accommodating the right to equal access of service by those seeking it, and the right to civilly refuse performing such service, and have such service referred to those willing to perform it.
Honorable Mention: Morgan Homan
Forced Religion Isn't

No one can force faith, either to believe or to doubt. The moment you force it, it is no longer religion. In this sense, religious liberty is intrinsic.


First Place: Marc Ellison
Believing in the Freedom to Believe

Protect Religous Freedom, for it Protects all other Freedoms

Second Place: Sarah Dickson
Our Liberty

Life is not life and liberty is not liberty without the freedom to believe our lives have purpose and the freedom to act on that purpose; for this is our pursuit of happiness.

Third Place: Maggie Kuta
Because We Worship
We may worship differently, but because we worship we are the same. #religiousliberty
Honorable Mention: Andrew Thomas

Tolerance is not acceptance, but civility between opposing beliefs.

Honorable Mention: Marc Ellison
Freedom of Religion Keeps You Free

Freedom of Religion Keeps You Free

Honorable Mention: Hailey Richmond
Religious Liberty 

God gave us choice so we could choose Him.

Honorable Mention: Victoria Wilson
United We Stand, Divided We Fall

A closed mind is a lonely place, and the collection of closed minds is a lonely state.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Leavitt
Religious Liberty Prevents Tyranny

History shows that autocrats rise when society oppresses the religious. The primary antidote to tyranny has always been the public tolerance of religious expression.

Honorable Mention: Jennifer James
We all have our right to religion so LEARN IT, LOVE IT, LIVE IT, AND SHARE IT!


First Place: Tingle Fraser
What is Religious Liberty?

Second Place: Tingle Fraser
Religious Liberty Enriches Culture

Third Place: Melissa Schwendinger
Religious Freedom Rap

Honorable Mention: Cristian Torres
Have Differences, Have Friends

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